Herdman to name his NWSL 16 later this month; unsure how losses of W-League programs will impact program

John Herdman

Canadian women’s national-team coach John Herdman expects to name the 16 players who will go to the new U.S.-based NWSL sometime later this month.

Herdman told a media conference call Friday that the announcements should come in January.

The Canadian Soccer Association will fund the salaries of 16 players who will play in the new U.S.-based NWSL, which begins play this year.

But, while Herdman is pleased with the progress made by the new NWSL, he is still scratching his head over the impact that the W-League has on the soccer scene in this country. And, so, he said he can’t fairly assess what kind of ripple effect will be felt thanks to the closures of W-League programs in Victoria and Vancouver. Both the Highlanders and Whitecaps announced they won’t be playing in the W-League, shifting their priorities to local women’s leagues.

“The two-month season certainly has challenges,” said Herdman. Because that season is so short, he said it has “limited impact on player development.”

And, as a second-tier league, he said W-League often gets players too late in their development. When these players spend their summers in W-League, they are often seen as past-due-date by national programs.

But he lauded the Whitecaps’ vision for their women’s program.

“The Whitecaps are investing younger,” he said. “They are using the funding they had and were using on W-League and using it on players who are 14 to 17. Strategically, it makes a lot of sense.”

That means the Caps are developing the players at a younger age, which increases their likelihood of making waves at the national-team level.

“They are putting more investment into raw material,” said Herdman.

And Herdman said teams like the W-League champion Ottawa Fury will benefit; more of the U-20 players will spend their summers with the Fury (Herdman also mentioned the Laval Cometes by name) and those teams will contribute more to the high-level training needed to improve the country’s young prospects.

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About Steven Sandor

I'm currently the colour commentator for FC Edmonton broadcasts on Sportsnet, NASL.com and TEAM 1260. I've covered the Toronto FC beat for four years, worked for the Edmonton Aviators of the USL for a season, covered the Edmonton Drillers of the NPSL and started covering Canadian World Cup qualifiers in 1996. I've covered the CONCACAF Champions League and the U-20 World Cup. I'm passionate about soccer in North America.